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Full text of "The Legacy Of Egypt"

46 The Political Approach to the Classical World
north-east. The former group, gradually crossing the Caucasus
from the region of the Danube basin, were gathering strength
in the north Armenian plateau as the latter, Iranians from
beyond the Caspian Sea, moved westwards to Lake Urmia and
the Zagros area, and spread as far south as the borders of Elam.
The Scythians at first came little into contact with Assyria; the
eastern group of peoples was a continual menace to her, and
necessitated constant campaigns in that direction.
The Aramaeans to the west of Assyria were never such for-
midable opponents. The petty kingdoms of the Euphrates and
Khabur valleys proved incapable of combining against their
common enemy. Assyria attacked them singly, and they were
easily reduced to submission. Occasionally they allied with the
Chaldaeans and Babylonians to the south, and then the Assyrians
had to face a dangerous coalition. The Babylonians themselves
were as a rule more interested in maintaining friendly relations
with the Power which held the northern trade-routes than with
any political ambitions. It was the Chaldaean tribes settled in
the south of Mesopotamia, under their five paramount sheikhs,
who managed occasionally to rouse national feeling and stir up
a general revolt. Merodach-baladan, one of these tribal chief-
tains, was the source of considerable anxiety to successive kings
of Assyria. Defeated by Tiglath-pileser III, and more than once
by Sargon II, he still proved irrepressible, and when he tried
to raise a coalition of Aramaeans, Elamites, and Arabs against
Sennacherib, and even drew Hezekiah of Judah into the plot,
the time had come to take firm action against Chaldaea. It was
colonized by settlers from the west, and a native Babylonian
governor was installed in Babylon, after which the country gave
little trouble until its final successful bid for liberty.
The acquisition of Assyria's western possessions was her most
vital and her most difficult task. Ashur-nasir-pal and his son
Shalmaneser III already in the ninth century penetrated to the
Aramaean cities of Syria-; the Phoenicians were easily blackmailed